Boris Johnson’s planned 5% pay rise for millions of public sector workers is insufficient and will not be found “remotely acceptable” by nurses, according to a union.
A Cabinet minister has told the Financial Times the Government will agree to pay rises averaging about 5% for the 2.5 million staff in the sector, who include nurses, teachers, police, civil servants and members of the armed forces.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has previously set out the case for a pay rise of 5% above the level of retail price index inflation, which is currently over 11%.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said late on Friday: “Millions of optimistic workers will be hoping these crushing reports are entirely inaccurate. Their work and current personal hardship warrants better from government.
“Nursing staff would not find this remotely acceptable. Years of pay cuts from ministers should not be capped off with yet another real-terms fall in salaries. There are tens of thousands of vacant nurse jobs and this treatment pushes more out of the profession.
“Our members in Scotland have an offer of this level on the table and we have come out against it – asking members to reject it and consider industrial action if ministers do not move.
“Ministers in Westminster still have the opportunity to see the writing on the wall and do the right thing by nursing.”
There are mounting fears the cost-of-living crisis could tip the UK into recession, as defined by two quarters in a row of falling output, as rocketing inflation sees households and businesses rein in spending.
Mr Cullen has previously flagged striking to prompt change, saying: “After a decade of pay cuts by government, nursing cannot afford to wait any more.”
He added: “No nurse ever wants to take industrial action but nothing is off the table for our members. Nursing staff may feel they have no other choice to protect patient safety.”
Mr Johnson’s reported plan comes days after new Health Secretary Steve Barclay was urged to end the delay in announcing a pay rise for nurses amid research suggesting public support for industrial action over the issue has risen sharply.
The college said nurses must be given an immediate, “substantial” pay rise, following a wait of three months for a Government decision.
The RCN said a survey of almost 1,500 people in England showed public support for nursing staff taking industrial action has risen sharply.
In May, 42% of respondents said they were “very! or “quite” likely to support nurses taking industrial action over their pay.
That figure has now risen to almost half.